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  • Writer's picturePete Jonson

The Energy Revolution

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

Graham Lloyd says in the weekend Oz: ‘At the very moment that Australia’s political class is gripped by a dramatic shift in climate-change ambition ahead of the Glasgow summit, the world has been seized by a countervailing reality. Global energy markets are in chaos and the divisions between the developed and developing world have never been more stark.

China and India, two of the world’s greatest CO2 emissions are still building coal based power plants, each with an extra decade to achieve an unlikely zero emissions. The USA is on track to burn an extra 23 per cent of CO2 after several years of no increase, with plenty of promises of ‘twin goals of peak emissions in 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060’.

Europe is ‘dumbstruck by a lack of wind and high prices for gas’ while France is ‘pushing hard for a renaissance in nuclear power across the EU. In the meantime , the use of fossil fuels is back on the rise.’

‘Unexpectedly, energy has trumped environmental science and bad weather in popular discussion. When tectonic forces are reshaping the world’s power structures on multiple fronts’.

‘The bottom line is a megatrend towards decarbonisation is well entrenched, but the pathway to get there is far from clear’. Polls show that people are reluctant to pay enough to properly decarbonise. ‘The Economist magazine warned last month that high-cost policies could lead to a Brexit style popular revolt’.

Many interesting facts and opinions follow. Here is a vital conclusion. ‘… the 45 per cent reduction in global emissions by 2030 required to limit temperature increases to 1.5C has a near-zero probability of being achieved. By setting a carbon-neutrality target for 2060, 10 years later than that of the other developed countries, China has secured room for manoeuvre, and as soon as the failure of net-zero policies becomes evident China will criticise the West and procrastinate over its own decarbonisation target.’

And in conclusion: ‘The World Economic Forum said on Thursday that breakthrough technologies such as hydrogen-based fuels, bioenergy and carbon-capture storage solutions are needed to hit the global goal of zero emissions by 2050. To scale these technologies and take them to market will require at least a tenfold increase in investment.

‘Australia’s challenge is to stay involved as part of the energy revolution without surrendering its communities, strengths or interests along the way.’

The immediately following article is by Greg Sheridan. Its headline is ‘Net Zero more rallying cry than reality’.

And in the middle of the article is a powerful assertion. ‘Further, any scenario of net-zero emissions relies on technologies that do not yet exist, or do not work, or are completely unaffordable’.

The year 2050 is almost certainly beyond my likely farewell. Good luck children and young tigers!

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